Paul kicks off 1 Corinthians 13 with a pretty heavy-duty statement – we can do anything we like, we can even do it with great power and do ‘big’ things, but if we do them without love, it is completely and utterly worthless.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
I don’t think there’s any mistaking what Paul is telling us – life without love = nothing. Pretty simple concept, really, as in if we live life that’s missing a vital ingredient, we’re not really living. But it becomes not-so-simple when we start to look at what that vital ingredient really is.
A little word that means so much more than we really, truly understand. Our concepts and understanding of love are shaped by our life, by our lived experiences, and that’s different for everyone. Fortunately for us, God didn’t just give Paul words to tell us the truth of living a life without love, but goes on to explain what love really is. We’re not left hanging with the thought ‘ok, so to truly live, I need to do everything I do with love, but what does that actually mean? What does that actually look like on a daily basis?’
And there, my friends, lies the ‘meat’ of this verse, the get-down-and-dirty, dig in deep, step-out- of-out- comfort-zones reality of God’s words. The truth is found in a few short verses, but they’re words that hold the key to life. So over the next few weeks, we’ll sit here and work out this instruction manual for life, the ultimate renovation guide, that most certainly isn’t a DIY project.
As we venture into what can be challenging, unfamiliar territory, I would really encourage you to start journaling your way through this process – whether it’s in a written journal, here in the comments, on your own blog, wherever – my experience has been that learning about true love is a game-changer, and writing has been my way of making sense of it all.
I’m still trying to make sense of it all. Every. Single. Day.